How to Make a Great Hard Boiled Egg That Peels Easily
If you like hard boiled eggs made the traditional way, you will love the results you'll get by preparing them sous vide.
Sous vide means "under vacuum" in French and is a cooking technique in which you vacuum-seal ingredients in plastic bags, submerge them in water, and cook them at “precisely controlled temperatures” for a specific time.
You can learn more about sous vide and read about my first experiences with this technique here.
Why Hard Boiled Eggs?
In my case, I'm making hard-boiled eggs because I'm on a diet, and they are the perfect source of high-quality proteins, amino acids, vitamins, and minerals and are only 77 calories. If you are counting calories like I am, a 77-calorie delicious hard-boiled egg with only 5 grams of fat and 6 grams of protein is an excellent snack between meals or can be added to a healthy salad for lunch or dinner.
If you're not on a diet, think deviled eggs, egg salad sandwiches, egg slices for a salad, stir-fries, or you can even try pickling some in vinegar, water and a little sugar. And who doesn't like just peeling one and dip it into a little salt & pepper? Yum!
Why Sous Vide Eggs?
The simple answer is that you can control precisely how firm the egg yolk and white will be EVERY time. There are many ways to make hard boiled eggs using the boiling technique, and each has factors that can change the outcome.
Depending on how you learned to prepare them, you may add eggs to a pot of boiling water for a specified amount of time or start with room temperature water, bring them to a boil and then let them sit for some time. How long it takes to bring them to a boil and how long you let them sit can drastically alter the finished product depending on lots of factors:
- size of eggs - large, extra large, jumbo
- age of the eggs
- number of eggs
- quality of pots you cook them in and the stove you cook them on
So the bottom line is by using this sous vide technique, you can prepare perfectly cooked hard boiled eggs exactly how you like them every time no matter how big they are, how many you cook or any of the other factors above.
Do They Taste Better?
That's so subjective and depends on the quality of the eggs you start with, but the eggs I cooked for this post were perfect and tasted amazingly good. That might be because of the time and effort I put in, or I'm always a little hungry and everything tastes better now that I'm on this diet.
I need to do a side-by-side taste tasting with both boiled and sous vide hard-boiled eggs and see if I can taste a difference. I can always get the perfect consistency with sous vide, and that's not always the case with boiling or steaming.
How To Make Hard Boiled Eggs That Peel Easily?
So here's the tricky part. To make sous vide eggs peel easily so they don't stick to the shell, pre-boil them for 3 minutes before adding them to the sous vide water bath. This may seem like a lot of extra work, but those 3 minutes will save you time and frustration when you start peeling those tasty orbs.
I know; I experimented with and without boiling the eggs first and learned firsthand this technique works. In the photos below, I pre-boiled the white egg for 3 minutes and then bathed it in ice water before adding it to the sous vide water. The results are evident when the brown egg went straight into the sous vide bath.
The brown eggs didn't peel nicely at all. They were extremely hard to peel, and I ended up with much of the egg stuck to the shell. Very disappointing!
If you are only going to make one or two hard-boiled eggs, using the boiling or steaming technique may be a lot easier, but if you plan on making a bunch of hard-boiled eggs, sous vide is the way to go.
|Pre-Boiled Egg||No Pre-Boiling Egg|
Why Are Older Eggs Easier to Peel When Hard Boiled?
Whether using the sous vide technique or the classic boiling method, older eggs are easier to peel after they are hard boiled. This is because as an egg gets older, the eggshell loses some of its protective coat, making it more porous and allowing it to take in more external air while releasing internal carbon dioxide.
As this process continues, the egg white shrinks, creating a small space between the egg white and the shell and thus making it easier to peel. On a more scientific note, as the egg white absorbs external air, it becomes more acidic.
A more acidic environment reduces the amount of stick the egg white (albumen) membrane has to the shell, making it easier to peel.
When you boil the eggs before placing them in the sous vide bath, you may be causing some of the same reactions created by age. If any scientists are reading this, please let me know in the comments section.
I also learned older eggs (and I am still determining exactly what age this happens) will float in water, whereas fresh eggs will sink to the bottom.
Time and Temperate for Hard Boiled Eggs
One thing I've learned about sous vide cooking is learning how long to cook something in a water bath and the water temperature for cooking.
It typically only matters with some ingredients you cook if you go over 5, 10, 15, or 30 minutes in most cases. You want to be careful not to use too low a temperature or cook for less time than required.
The first website I checked said 170°F for 1 hour, the next one I found said 165°F for 45 minutes, so I decided to go with 165°F for 1 hour and the results were spectacular. I cooked nine eggs, six white ones that were pre-boiled for 3 minutes, and three brown eggs that were not.
I don't think it would have mattered if I cooked an even dozen or two dozen. There was plenty of room in my sous vide container.
The recipe below starts with pre-boiling the eggs to facilitate the peeling. You don't have to take this step, but it's worth the time and effort.
How to Sous Vide Perfect Hard Boiled Eggs
- My old hard-anodized 4 quart sauce pot
- Oven safe plastic slotted spoon
- Large stainless steel bowl for ice water
- Cambro 4.75 gallon polycarbonate food storage container for sous viding in
- Anova Sous Vide Precision Cooker
- 9 eggs large or jumbo
- Get all your equipment ready to go. Attach your sous vide precision cooker to a large container filled with hot water from the sink. You can use cold water but it will take a lot longer to heat up. Better to use hot water from the tap.I found the water heats up faster if I cover the container with aluminum foil being careful to leave the corner away from the circulator open to let the steam out. I have also used a dish towel.
- It's going to take time depending on the temperature of your tap water to get up to 165°F so plan accordingly. I would suggest you wait until the water temperature reaches around 150°F before you bring a large pot (large enough to hold 9 eggs) of water to boil.
- When the water comes to a boil, carefully add the eggs to the pot using a slotted spoon or Chinese spider. Boil for 3 minutes.
- While the eggs are cooking, fill a large bowl with ice water. As soon as the 3 minutes are up, carefully transfer the eggs from the pot to the ice bath using a slotted spoon. Once they are cooled off, about 1 minute, remove and reserve until the sous vide water reaches temperature.
- When you add the eggs to the 165°F water, it is naturally going to go down a few degrees. Don't worry, it doesn't take long to get back to 165°F. Set your timer for 60 minutes and go off and find something else to do.
- As you get close to 60 minutes of cooking, fill the ice water bowl back up with cold tap water and have at the ready. When 60 minutes are up, carefully transfer the eggs from the sous vide container to the cold water bath.
- Let the eggs cool for a couple of minutes and then transfer them to a storage container and store in the refrigerator until you need them. I used an empty egg carton that I market up saying Hard Boiled Eggs.
Some of My Favorite Cooking Techniques
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- How NOT To Cook With Water - Steaming
- What Is a Recipe and How to Start One Every Time
- How to Season Food With Salt
- Spice and Herb Chart
- How NOT to Season Foods